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Future Watch – Calgary Flames: A need for 'D'

The Flames’ blueline is flush with youngsters, but the system is running dry. It’s time to foster the next wave.
Stockton Heat

Stockton Heat

B- / 17th overall

Almost every night, the Flames’ lineup has three defensemen aged 22 or younger, and Oliver Kylington was called up because 20-year-old Juuso Valimaki was injured. Even with that much youth, the Flames know they must build another stable of blueliners. “It was by design to get as many defensemen as we could,” said Calgary GM Brad Treliving. “Then you graduate three and trade one (Adam Fox), and all of a sudden you look outside of the NHL, and we’re thin on defense.” The Flames have added plenty of homegrown players to their roster, but the pipeline isn’t overflowing. “We need to keep adding,” Treliving said. “All three positions.”

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1. Juuso Valimaki (17th overall)
D, 20, 6-2, 212 – Stockton (AHL)
13–2–7–9–12
2017 draft, 16th overall
Valimaki made Calgary out of camp but lost his job due to a high-ankle sprain in November. “He was playing really well,” Treliving said. “He’s big. He can skate. He can do it all.” The Flames want Valimaki to regain all the elements of his game before recalling him, and there are still aspects to develop. “His feet are good but you always want him to be a little quicker, and it’s about doing it at NHL pace,” Treliving said. “You love the poise, but it’s doing things quicker, at NHL pace.”
FW18| No. 1 – NHL | 2019-20

2. Dillon Dube (61st overall)
C, 20, 5-11, 190 – Stockton (AHL)
28–10–20–30–16
2016 draft, 56th overall
Dube also made the Flames’ roster off the hop in his first pro season, but after 23 games it became obvious he needed more ice time than a fourth-line spot provides. Dube has the credentials to be an offensive NHLer. “He’s got elite speed,” Treliving said. “In a league that’s fast, he’s a fast guy.” Dube is in the process of refining his skills. “It’s doing things quicker and sometimes being more direct,” Treliving said. “When you’ve got an opportunity to put a puck on net, you do it.”
FW18| No. 4 – NHL | 2019-20

3. Tyler Parsons
G, 21, 6-1, 190 – Stockton (AHL)
6–7–1, 3.83, .891
2016 draft, 54th overall
After a rough 2017-18 due to injuries, Parsons started well this season but got hurt again and had to regain his form. It’s been an up-and-down year, but the Flames see progress. They’ll be patient. Parsons has a winning pedigree, incredible athleticism, which he’ll need to succeed as an undersized goalie, and great competitiveness, but the key will be refining that last attribute. “You don’t want to mute the competitiveness, but you have to dial it down sometimes and learn when less is more,” Treliving said.
FW18| No. 3 – NHL | 2021-22

4. Andrew Mangiapane
LW, 22, 5-10, 184 – Stockton (AHL)
15–9–8–17–20
2015 draft, 166th overall
Mangiapane was close to making the roster in camp but was victimized by the numbers game. Instead of sulking, he soon earned a recall in December. He has the skill and speed to be a full-time NHLer in an energy role with offensive impact. “I call it a respectful disrespect,” Treliving said. “You can respect veteran players too much. You have to respect them, but you have to say, ‘I belong here and I’m not deferring all the time.’ It doesn’t just happen, it can take time, and you’re seeing that now with him.”
FW18| No. 8 – NHL | 2019-20

5. Martin Pospisil
C, 19, 6-2, 181 – Sioux City (USHL)
33–12–31–43–92
2018 draft, 105th overall
The NHL has become a speed-and-skill game, but there’s always the need for a strapping forward who can provide offense. Pospisil, who played on Slovakia’s top line at the WJC, can provide scoring and snarl. “He straddles the fence between good and evil,” Treliving said. “He’s sort of a throwback. He’ll bite your arm off in practice, and we’re excited about him.” His speed and quickness need improvement, but the club believes that it’s a matter of getting stronger, not a fault in his skating mechanics.
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2022-23

6. Mathias Emilio Pettersen
C, 18, 5-10, 175 – Denver (NCHC)
32–6–20–26–14
2018 draft, 167th overall
NCAA freshman’s game is all about speed and creativity. More playmaker than scorer.

7. Matthew Phillips
C, 20, 5-7, 155 – Stockton (AHL)
51–11–17–28–2
2016 draft, 166th overall
Slow start, but finding his form. Small player who must learn how to succeed as pro.

8. Dmitri Zavgorodniy
LW, 18, 5-9, 165 – Rimouski (QMJHL)
63–27–36–63–10
2018 draft, 198th overall
Started hot, but struggled after not being chosen for Russian WJC squad.

9. Glenn Gawdin
C, 21, 6-1, 191 – Stockton (AHL)
50–11–16–27–41
Free agent, Nov. 16, 2017
Learning to contribute in non-scoring role. Becoming a go-to defensive player.

10. Spencer Foo
RW, 24, 6-0, 190 – Stockton (AHL)
53–14–12–26–34
Free agent, July 1, 2017
Struggled after camp demotion. Must elevate game or will fall down depth chart.

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